Should Christians celebrate Halloween? That’s a controversial question with the power to spark intense debate among the faithful. After all, some see the holiday as rooted in evil, inappropriate and simply unworthy of being celebrated by believers.
Others, though, have no qualms about partaking in the more fun-filled and benign aspects.
Pastor Mark Driscoll, formerly of Mars Hill Church, recently tackled this question in a video he uploaded to his website. Driscoll primarily argued that, rather than immediately jumping to a “yes” or “no” response, it’s essential for believers to turn to prayer for guidance on how to observe holidays like Halloween, as The Christian Post reported.
“These are the three options – receive, reject, or redeem,” he argued. “You may be wanting me to tell you ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but I really think this is something to study through, to pray through.”
Of his own experience, Driscoll said he and his wife initially rejected Halloween, though he said they eventually moved into the “redeem” stage, encouraging Christians to ask themselves how they can stay faithful to their beliefs while still loving people as they observe certain calendar events.
Some critics, though, have taken firmer stances. Let’s first look at the intense opposition to celebrating Halloween. Pastor Jamie Morgan of Life Church in Williamstown, New Jersey, wrote an op-ed for Charisma News in 2015, pushing back against the idea that Christians would openly celebrate the holiday.
“Setting aside a day to celebrate evil, darkness, witchcraft, fear, death and the demonic brings disdain to God. Period,” Morgan wrote. “A Christian celebrating Halloween would be like a Satan worshiper putting up a nativity scene at Christmas while singing, ‘Happy Birthday, Jesus!’ The two just don’t go together.”
And if there’s any doubt about exactly where Morgan stands, the pastor concluded with the following line: “A committed follower of Jesus Christ should not celebrate Halloween.”
Author Ben Godwin shared a similar perspective, penning a recent piece for Charisma News alleging that “the Bible clearly condemns Halloween.” Godwin said “it’s a tricky balance for Christians to be in the world without conforming to it,” but encouraged Christians to avoid the negative or evil parts of the celebration.
“Halloween is a showcase for witchcraft which the Bible clearly condemns … calling it an ‘abomination’ — morally disgusting, detestable, despicable and abhorrent,” Godwin’s op-ed reads.
At another point, he wrote, “While I personally don’t celebrate Halloween, I’m not a killjoy on a mission to rob people of fun. I do not equate dressing up in a cartoon or superhero costume and collecting candy with devil worship.”
Others, though, don’t see a problem with the celebration, arguing that it’s entirely possible to observe Halloween in a positive or uplifting way, rather than focusing on the darkness that oft-times accompanies the holiday.
Pastor Alan Rudnick, for instance, published a blog post titled, “7 Reasons Why a Christian Can Celebrate Halloween,” saying Halloween wasn’t necessarily founded on evil premises. Here’s what he wrote:
Somewhere, in the halls of history, Halloween or All Hallows Eve, got hijacked. What started as a day to prepare for All Saints’ Day (November 1st), Halloween became a spooky, evil, and candy filled observance. The term “Halloween” from its beginnings, had nothing to do with any pagan or evil beliefs. The Christian festival All Hallows Eve morphed into our current term Hallowe’en.
The key in understanding of the origins of the term Halloween comes from the sense of what is “hallowed” or “holy”. In the Lord’s Prayer, Christians pray, “Our Father, in heaven, hallowed be your name…” In the fourth century, John Chrysostom tells us that the Eastern church celebrated a festival in honor of all saints who died. In the seventh and eighth centuries, Christians celebrated “All Saints’ Day” formally.
Others, though, say that modern-day Halloween evolved from Samhain, which was an ancient Celtic holiday marking the end of the harvest season and the start of winter; at the time, they reportedly believed that this transitional time was also a bridge to the dead, according to History.com.
Either way, Rudnick proceeded in his piece to offer seven ways he believes Christians can reclaim and celebrate the holiday, including the notion that Halloween doesn’t have to be celebrated in an evil way; he also encouraged churches to celebrate All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1, putting a focus on the role Christians have played throughout history.
“Why should Christians allow others to claim Halloween as their own? We should not,” he wrote. “We should take it back All Hallows Eve by embracing All Saints Day and remembering our ‘saints.'”
It’s clear the issue is highly debated, with some even creating alternative holidays such as “Jesus Ween” — an observance that, instead, focuses on Jesus. And some churches host alternative “Harvest Festivals,” parties aimed at offering kids fun and candy without delving into the typical Halloween traditions.
Additionally, others hand out tracts or talk to people about God when they come to their homes. There’s clearly no shortage of alternatives, including simply ignoring Halloween entirely. What do you think?